Why am I losing my shit and finding a new faith? I am so glad you asked that. I am losing my shit because I am surrounded by people who disregard the basic laws that hold society together. So I have cobbled together a new religion, one that may just save my sanity. But only if people follow the commandments of sex, and writing, and especially writing about sex, which were handed down to me just minutes ago on a kind of - well, parchment-y thing.
Behold the truth as revealed to me by the goddess of smut:
Use commas or I will pray for your salvation1, you grammatic infidel. Behold the comma:
Isn't it cute? Doesn't it look like something you would like to take home and snuggle all night? Wouldn't you marry that comma if it was single? (It isn't; it and the period are in a long-term relationship. But it's an open one, so the comma is still available for a cheap one-night stand.) More to the point, wouldn't you like to give that cute little curly guy a home in your story? Because, trust me, there are places he belongs. It's really tough to write an entire story that doesn't need a comma anywhere, and it's unlikely that you did it without intending to. So, really: use the goddamned comma. If nothing you have written in the past decade shows any evidence that you a) have a keyboard with a comma key and b) know where said key is and how to use it, you are partly responsible for me losing my shit.
I hope you're happy. Because I? Am not.
Use apostrophes or you are destined for the hell controlled entirely by burned-out English teachers and people like me. So. The apostrophe:
It looks very much like a comma, although just how much will depend on your font of choice, and I am not going to dictate. I am no fontophobe. (Well, except that I do hate people who write papers in calligraphy fonts, but only because it has a negative effect on me personally. I mean, seriously, if you're that determined that I should go blind? Just run up to me and poke at my eyes with a stick or something. That way, at least I don't have to suffer damage to my eyes and read your pathetic excuse for a thesis statement at the same time.) But here's the key difference between apostrophes and commas: one goes up top and the other goes down below. They're like the bras and panties of the writing world, people. You should not leave home without a bra and panties (Unless, yes, you are either not a woman or not generously endowed, but see the part where I said I was losing my shit - don't expect the insane frothing ranting woman to be careful to include all viewpoints and sensitive to everyone's issues and to file a rant environmental impact statement and a rant sub-contractor who fulfills all 181 points of the fair hiring statement, because - losing. My. Shit.), and you should not write a story without apostrophes and commas. ("But I do not use contractions!" If there's dialog, honey, please let there also be contractions. Yes, you can occasionally get away without them, but most of the time you leave your characters sounding like actors in local amateur theater productions of Shakespeare plays. Worse case scenario, amateur Shakespeare actor with stick up ass and lockjaw. Very few characters sound this way naturally. Trust me on this.)
Use both commas and apostrophes correctly or the bad scary punctuation demon will come for you. Would you wear a bra on your head and panties on your feet? Well, OK, I see your point there. Bad example. Because, really, who wouldn't? But, like, would you wear them that way at a formal party when surrounded by people you hoped to impress? No. Because the key to stylish bra and panty use is to know where they go - inside the clothes, for example. And as with underclothes, so with punctuation. You have to know where it goes. If you don't, there are people you can ask, books you can read, remedial classes you can attend. Or, hell, just stick a big ol' warning on your story: "I have no idea what a comma or apostrophe is and even if I did I would not use either because I am a Punctuation Iconoclast and I do not need your stinking dogma to come between me and the beauty of my thoughts." Then I will not read you, but your fellow Punctuation Iconoclasts will, and, lo, happiness will reign upon the earth. Until then, I will be here in the corner, seriously losing my shit.
Know the difference, and that knowledge will set you free. Specifically, it will cause us to set you free from the dank little room where we keep the unrepentant misspeller. "You're" is not the same as "your." There is a critical difference between "its" and "it's." "They're" does not equal "their" does not equal "there." Good and right-thinking people may occasionally make mistakes about this. It happens. You're typing along, and suddenly - whoops! You've committed a cardinal grammar sin. You apologize, you move on, you try not to let it make you want to end your life drinking rotgut in some anonymous bar in northern Colombia, dealing arms while answering to the name "Mamajama." But have some shame. Show some sense of propriety. Make a serious effort to get it right all of the time, especially in stories. Stories have beta-readers for a reason, and that is one of them, and if you are a good person you will remember that, and your stories will show evidence of your goodness and your memory. If not, fine. Hope you enjoy the dank little room, because I for one am not letting you out any time soon.
The only moral justification for alphabet soup is dinner. Remember, not everyone who is reading your LJ is intimately acquainted with your fandom, your pairing, or your brain. If you call someone, say, AS (made-up example), I have no idea who you mean, which sort of takes away my ability to, you know, get your post. Oh, I will still read it, but I won't understand it. And if you say a story is "post-ABCD" and expect that that's all the scene-setting you need to do? Well, I will eventually figure out what you mean by this, even if I have to perform complicated statistical analyses and maybe sacrifice to ancient, hostile gods to do so, but that's because I'm a) determined b) wily and c) unwilling to let anything stand between me and FF. Trust me when I tell you that a more sensible person would just give up. Will just give up, because the world is full of people more sensible than I am.
The thing is, OK. I don't expect you to spell everything out all the time, but wouldn't it be possible for those of you who actually want new converts to your fandoms to, like, post a list of common acronyms? Because if "JF" is the only clue you're willing to give me, I'm likely to assume it stands for "Jesus Freak," which makes subsequent slashy remarks a little surreal. We are not in the military, people. Acronyms are not the only things that stand between us and the embarrassment of everyone figuring out that a lot of what we do is trivial. We know what we do is trivial, and we are proud of that fact, and frankly we would be even more proud if we could understand what the hell other people were talking about most of the time.
Boogie shoes go on feet, not on cocks. Get this wrong and smiting will follow. (Also possibly unfortunate medical consequences, so this is really important, folks.) See the cock! See the cock bounce! See the cock get down! Dance, cock, dance! By which I mean, OK, yes, I get what you mean when you write about bouncing cocks, or cocks springing free, or cocks just generally displaying their apparent urge to shimmy like my sister Kate. I'm fine with that, good to go with that, happy to read it. But ah my foes and oh my friends, enough is enough: don't let's get to the point where I'm reading the sex but asking myself if the cock is on a strict program of aerobic exercise, and if so, is there some secret Guy Store where you can get the DVDs "Quickies: Ten Minutes to a Whole New Healthier Cock" and "Kathy Smith's Pure Man Muscle" and "Cockercize with Rodney Yee"? Because if not, maybe some of these cocks should see a doctor before they up their activity level this much. Hell, given that some of them seem to shake more than your average vibrator, maybe they should look into seizure meds. My point is that there's a good-sense limit to the cock-bounce action. Unless your story is called “Cock on a Hot Tin Roof,” in which case, you know what? I love you so much that it doesn’t matter.
The road to hell is lined with inappropriately important blue balls. Oh my god. Can we never, ever see blue balls as a major plot point again? Because, OK. See, blue balls is not some agonizing and potentially deadly malady that strikes down all men who do not get immediate sexual gratification. I promise you - emergency room doctors see penile fractures and priapism and the results of unfortunate experiments involving creative sexual encounters with inanimate objects, but "sexual frustration" does not have a recognized diagnostic code, people. I'm sick unto death of reading stories written by people who apparently believed what their 8th-grade boyfriends told them. So he got turned on but he didn't get off. He'll recover without heroic measures. But, I swear, you won't recover all that quickly from what the goddess of smut will do to you. Just, you know, FYI.
As it was revealed to me, so I have revealed it to you. Go with the goddess, sisters and brothers, and please, I'm begging you, sin no more.
Or god only knows what will happen to my shit.
1 And by "your salvation," I mean "my salvation from your writing, no matter what that takes."